Social Enterprise (SE) is a for profit venture most often run by a non-profit society or charity. There is generally a limited or zero shareholder distribution of profits. Social Enterprises follow the triple bottom line philosophy.
- Make a profit.
- Be environmentally proactive.
- Fulfill your social mandate.
Fully one percent of all registered businesses in the United Kingdom are Social Enterprises. According to data from the Annual Survey of Small Businesses UK (aggregated data 2005-2007), there are approximately 62,000 social enterprises in the UK with small and medium social enterprises contributing £24 billion GVA (Gross Value Added) (48 billion CDN) to the UK economy and employ approximately one million people. Although Canada lags far behind the US and the UK this sector is growing.
In Canada the Salvation Army Thrift Shops are a good example of a thriving social enterprise that is profitable, environmentally responsible and provides many excellent community services. Skwachàys Lodge is another great example of a social enterprise. This Aboriginal arts and culture hotel combined with the Urban Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery provides the ongoing support for 24 Aboriginal artist live/work studios. This innovative approach to supportive housing provides monetary relief to an over burdened social housing sector.
There are tremendous possibilities for charities and non-profits to partner with corporations as well as local companies to build relationships that are both profitable and socially responsible.
Joseph MacLean provides consulting, technology and communication services to non-profits looking to incubate or grow their social enterprise and to corporations seeking valuable partnerships that can be formed using this economic model to further both their connection to the community and to build good will in the marketplace as a responsible and proactive corporate citizen.